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Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Page: 5


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (9:43 AM) —Of course, Senator Brown asked me a different question, the answer to which I said would be found in the annual report. As to the vetting process itself, that was not the question, and he is wrong to suggest that it was. He now asks that, and I can advise him that, as I said earlier, different processes apply for the different levels of clearance. The clearance system is based on negative vetting. This aims to identify anything in a person's background or lifestyle likely to pose a security risk. Positive vetting entails an extensive examination of the person's life until suitability for clearance has been established beyond reasonable doubt. That is a system which is generally only required for the top secret level. In the other levels negative vetting is what is required.

A security assessment from ASIO is required for people who require access to national security information. If a clearance is denied the applicant may seek a review of the decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and I think that that is very important to remember. If that is denied they can seek redress in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which is an important aspect. The security clearance, of course, is a preventative measure. It is essential in the conduct of the protection of the national security of this country and the process here is one which applies as it would to anyone else seeking a security clearance. This is not a process to prevent lawyers from appearing in a case at all. It is a process to protect the national security of Australia. That is a summary of how it works. The manual itself is a confidential document which, for security reasons, cannot be released.